Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Καλό Όχι Μέρα - Χρονια πολλά! ...

Is a national holiday today in Greece ...

A day for a parade, to fly the flag, and feel good. I know the junior and the school children taking part, will all very eager to wave their flags today down on the Paralia.

The church bells will be very busy, as the commemorative service, progresses at Tries Hieraches, before the parade this morning, at 11am.

The history:

At 3 a.m. on the morning of October 28th, 1940, Emanuele Grazzi, the Italian ambassador to Greece, delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas.  Il Duce demanded that Metaxas allow the Italian army free passage to enter and occupy strategic sites in Greece unopposed.

Faced with this demand, Metaxas delivered an unequivocal response in French, the diplomatic language of the day, “Alors, c’est la guerre.”  This brief phrase, “Then, it is war,” was quickly transmuted into the laconic “Oxi,” the Greek for no, by the citizens of Athens. 

The Ultimate history project website gives an excellent explanation here



I have read over the years, that the actions of the Greek forces, pushing the Italians back into Albania, and continuing the battle in the mountains, disrupted the war to such an effect that German troops were sent to the Balklans. This ensuring that the Eastern front campaign slowed, then stopped and froze.

Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel admitted during the Nuremberg Trials:

“…the unbelievably strong resistance of the Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia;  if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different in the Eastern Front and the war in general.”

Churchill paid homage to the Greek resistance by claiming,  “…until now we would say that the Greeks fight like heroes. From now on we will say that heroes fight like Greeks.”

However the German troops invaded Greece through the border with Yugoslavia, Greece endured three years of occupation - We cannot imagine what it would have been like to hear a broadcast like this ...


Later update:

The Skiathos OXI Day parade, video (Skiathos Life) starts at the 2 minute mark, after the promotion for Gravisi Pizza. I assume Konstantinos Fergadis is the man behind the camera ...

Video here

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Katsonis memorial weekend ...

The main event will be on Sunday at 11am, on the Old Harbour ...


Monday, 7 September 2015

Collapsing the Monastery of Kechria Skiathos ...

Translation:
Collapsing the Monastery Kechria Skiathos

BY REPORTER-1 ON SEPTEMBER 7, 2015 LOCAL NEWS
Source http://www.myvolos.net/

Article: http://www.myvolos.net/archives/104456

Monument every sample of human activity from previous seasons showing special interest and are worthy to be preserved. In the case of the Monastery Panagia Kechria Skiathos (monument), or should we change the interpretation of the monument word, if you need to follow, or cease to be called a monument because the image abandonment, shows that it has been decided that it is not worthy be maintained.
The Kechria Panagia monastery is classified as a historical monument by the Ministry of Culture in the Government Gazette 644 / B '/ 10.2.1965, VA 3988 / 09.21.65, and its foundation dates back to the 16th century. The only building of the monastery that was not destroyed and broadly maintained its original form is the universal, belonging to the type of single-triconch small domed temples. The church is full of a painting ensemble of the 18th century, characterized by iconographic completeness, monumentality and artistic quality. Of particular interest is the high art carved iconostasis, of the late 18th cent., Which is not the original church.
Perhaps reading these wishes can visit the monastery, and then you will be confronted with the sad reality, a "monument" to be destroyed before his eyes.
The internal coating of the wall has fallen in many places dragging and frescoes, strongly induces the look a piece of the wall with three "decapitated" saints, and by association led to heinous acts of jihadist beheading antiquities, not that there is certainly no match, but the result is the same, damaged monuments.
As features made the president of the Cultural Association "Skiathos" Theodore Tzoumas: "What is it that allows us inside us to endure this picture and in the end to the accustomed, Nikos Dimou, in his essay" The misery of being Greek ", writes that blame the" grid inferiority towards our ancestors, that leaves to realize their projects.
"It might seem to some former nobles who can not sustain their heritage, but really can not or simply do not concern us?
Difficult times for restoration, is perhaps one of the first thoughts, but it is actually more difficult the times that built the monument? 16th century (according to the designer of the post-Byzantine monuments of Skiathos, Mr. Alexis Alexiou).
What really respect our monuments, and especially when we consider and sanctuaries such as the Abbey Notre Kechria, connected with the rescue Memorial Day Skiathos from the ferocity of the Germans.
The responsibility lies with all of us, because this is our cultural heritage, one of the most important monasteries of the island, an island that the long history of its people, has left important monuments behind it, but we as' People of monuments, we can not "ever see" our monuments ... ', paraphrasing George Seferis.
In order to maintain the ledger to keep stands the dome of the ledger with fourteen monovola windows, where "All The sun shines in the dome of your beautiful church ...", says the vivid description of the Alexanros Papadiamantis, in his poem of "The Virgin Kechria", the Cultural Association 'Skiathos', engaged in cooperation, since last March, the Branch of Magnesia of the Technical Chamber of Greece and Archaeological Magnesia, with the permission of the Abbot of the Monastery of the Annunciation, Fr. . Joseph, for the preparation of the ledger maintenance studies, the frescoes and iconostasis.
The Cultural Association 'Skiathos', would like to thank Mrs. Nancy Kabul, President of the Regional Department of Magnesia of the Technical Chamber of Greece and Ms. Anna Gialouri Head, Department of Byzantine Archaeological Sites of Antiquities Magnesia on cooperation and the immediate response.
In this effort, any help is welcome. "

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Agios (Saint) Fanourios ...

Today is Agios (Saint) Fanourios name day.

On a hill outside Skiathos Town is a beautiful little church dedicated to Agios Fanourios, who is the patron saint of lost things

Traditionally on this day, a cake called Fanouripita is baked - you can see a 'video of the recipe' here.

On this day it’s traditional to drive the 5 minutes up to this church to pray for the safe return of anything you’ve lost. Homemade cakes are blessed in the church, and if you eat a slice it’s said you’ll then dream the location of the missing item.

So you if you've lost anything, and you visit the church, then you can light some candles to him.

Now, all I have to do is find where I put those candles ...!

Friday, 14 August 2015

'Πάσχα του καλοκαιριού' ...

Easter in Summer ...

On the island and wondering why its so busy?

Its the August holiday weekend, a religious holiday of some importance to your hosts.

Tonight at the Evaggelistrias Monastery, You will be able to see the candlelit procession, of the ephitaphos, as the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is celebrated.


Ephitaphos awaits

If you are on the island, and fancy seeing a unique event, make sure you are there by 22:00hrs tonight ...

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Is there anybody there ...

Hello Silent surfers, its been a while ...

You may have wondered what is going on. Well since we left Greece it certainly has become interesting on the Greek front. Looks like it will be quite an interesting week back 'on the rock' and in Greece in general, as the EU meet to discuss Greece's problems ...


Have been amusing myself here, watching some of my quotes 'from here, appearing elsewhere' seems a lot of the 'silent surfers' now refer to the islanders, as Skiathian's rather than Skiathiti's. Not sure how that happened ...

Its very different being back here in Blighty ...

SWMBO as many of you now know, has been going through the mill with her chemotherapy treatment. Its a long haul and she is facing the challenge bravely. Its very tough, but the hospitals here have drugs, working equipment, and strangely are full of very nice Greek doctors.


Junior is settled in school, but missing friends, and Skiathos in general for all the obvious reasons. Lets be honest 12 weeks summer break in Greece only seven here. Where would you rather be?

I had an interesting time with the teacher, sorry 'komandant' of the class.

"Its not acceptable for Junior to write in Greek" she said.
My reply "Oh come on admit it, you have learnt something for your holidays, You are quite impressed aren't you" ...

For some reason she hates me ...
I have my six monthly chat on Friday, It should be fun to read the report. Homework book down the back of the pants, better check I have signed it, and written my area of the report first ...

Schools in Greece at Infant age, are more friendly. The teachers warmer to the children, In UK its tests and homework three times a week. Try that in Greece and there would be hell to pay ...

Travel is fun ...

A new record yesterday - I used four buses within one mile.

Bus 1: Turfed off - someone ill bus out of service
Bus 2: Turfed off - Just 100 meters later - Lady driver had the hump picking up us Bus 1 passengers. She was shouting like a deranged loony. Slammed the bus over the speed humps and broke the front of the bus
Bus 3: Turfed off - Full to the brim, yes destination changed, due to the break in service.
Bus 4: We luckily made it on board, and to the next stop, as some of the passengers just gave up and walked ...

That would be most of the fleet back 'on the rock' ...

The weather here is not brilliant, and lets be honest back 'on the rock' its been foul. Worst winter since the Kafenion coffee failed to arrive. Never mind about June, but we know who to blame ...

I am just into shorts last day of June, In Greece it would have been mid April at least into mid October. Have slept on top of the bed, once or twice in the last week. Again back 'on the rock' Mid May to October for sure.

My guide to weather and events in Skiathos, gathered from feedback in the TA forum ...

  • May: Too cold/buses infrequent/rain/sea cold
  • June: Too unreliable, "The worst June in years" never again
  • July: Too hot, Too many Greeks/Italians/loud music/beaches & buses packed
  • August: Too hot, Too many Greeks/Italians/loud music/beaches & buses packed
  • September: Too unreliable, Storms, closing up
  • October: Too unreliable, no one told us everything closed.
Did anyone mention the thunderstorms? Greek ones are far better than UK ones ...

Food, here the diet is heavier, the fresh produce has travelled many miles. Flavourless tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that come 'wrapped in condoms' to keep them fresh. Bagged salads and pre cut bags of vegetables. You cannot do the sniff test, if the food has a plastic wrapper ...

All those aisles of boxes of pre cooked 'ping dinners' the bread is horrible. We have found an independent bakery, which is very good, but (Don't mention it back home) the turkish bread from their bakery, is as as good as you can get.

Strangest thing to see, someone living in a flat above a Tesco getting a food delivery ...

The lack of Olive oil in the diet, meaning the joints click like they used to years ago. Knees that crack like a gunshot in the cooler weather.

Worst of all - No tsipouro ...

Once in a while one of our Skiathos friends, touches our heart. One morning a package arrived, that has done bus and air miles to get here.

So here is a 'still life' dedicated to the happiest Boomeranger, I have ever met, Mr Tsipouro - Phil & his lovely wife Sheila. Aided and abetted by the famous Troll - Stig. Who have succeeded in putting a smile, and some sunshine on a Skiathian mates face ...



The part of London we were in, (and we keep on moving) was African, must say the price of Yams shocked me, but if you liked hot food, the peppers were amazing. Their produce seemed very fresh compared to what was available in the local supermarket.

Fresh fish last night, 'Tsipoura' which in English is 'Sea Bream'. Only it comes from Greece, and two for a fiver from the cling film wrapped supermarket.

On the subject of fish, have been visiting Billingsgate, the main fish market in London every couple of months. Great to have a quick chat with one of my Skiathos mates JH. He has reintroduced me to cold water fish, its been an education, that we have enjoyed.

Lemon sole, Monkfish, Plaice, learning how to fillet a Haddock, but I must admit, and the 'educator' will be pleased to learn, I do love the Cornish Hake, it makes a great fish pie. Its even served with chips at Lords cricket ground as something called 'Cornish white fish' ...

You do know the battle for the Ashes starts today, in somewhere called Cardiff ...


I have a ticket for Lords, and cannot wait to get back there, having queued down the street to see England beat New Zealand, on BH Monday. That was £10 in loose change well spent. Have also been to Twickenham to see England v Italy with the nephews. Thanks to my brother and Essex RFU for that ...

So its another deadline for Greece, next Sunday. Will be watching the result in earnest, and thinking about friends far away. Many of whom we are constantly in touch, along with some of the silent surfers who have surfaced over the last few weeks.

Wherever you are, have a great day, that's all for now folks, from the suburbs of the greatest city - London - where at least the banks are open, even if you have no money ...

Friday, 9 January 2015

Skiathos: the final frontier ...

These were the voyages of an ex-pat Englishman. 

His five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no Englishman had gone before ...

Well on the way, he told you all about it ...

Only its become a lot more difficult of late. You see SWMBO is going through hell. Cancer has torn our happy life apart, there is not a lot that I can say, that will make it seem better than it is.

Its going to get a lot worse, over the next few months ...

So regrettably I think its time to close another chapter - the blog.

Over half a million visits from strangers to our little world. Sometimes over a thousand hits a day. Some of you  paused to chat, some just sat and stared, some became good friends.

I have to support SWMBO through her darkest hours, Junior needs daddy to be there too.

So until we meet again, whenever or wherever that will be ...

 

So its goodnight from me ...

... footnote - 13/01/15

Thank you, one and all for your very kind and positive comments, here on the blog ...

Its when you are going through tough times, you find out who your friends are. We are stunned by the response, and the huge number of comments left on the blog.

Tough times ahead, thank you once again, for your support ...

Skiathian, SWMBO & Junior


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

UK pensioners ...

News from Blighty ...

If you are still battened down here on the island, braving out the gales, after freezing after the snow and ice. You will probably be less than delighted to read the news here.

Something to mull over next time you have to free, the frozen water pumps.

The next storm system across the Atlantic, promises as it disrupts weather north of the alps, to send more Siberian air south over Greece ...

Daily Mail article
Perhaps it's time to head a little further south, Santorini anyone ?


Even the beaches down in Crete, were blanketed in snow yesterday ...

OK - Start chopping the firewood ...


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

θεοφανια ...

Today is the celebration of Theofania or Epiphany ...

This is the day that celebrates the baptism of Jesus, a blessing made with water. So here in Greece there will be a blessing of the water by the local Pappa.

Our very own Pappa Yorgos, has been reminding us of the event since 06:15am. With a hearty ringing of the church bells, at Tries Hieraches.

Then a little later after the church service, we will gather on the old harbour. There to see the brave swimmers leap from the Mata Hari into the icy water. Diving in to retrieve a cross, cast by Pappa Yorgos into the deep. He or she, will be rewarded for their efforts, by the residents of the village, as they pass by with coins as reward.

Captain Lambros, moved Mata Hari into position last night. No mean feat in the windy conditions. The smaller boat being used today, perhaps indicative of fewer swimmers, are taking up the challenge this year.

Its very cold, anyone taking the dip needs to be rewarded, along with the champion who retrieves the cross ...

Mid morning update:

They brave boys and girl did it ...

Pappa Yorgos prepares to cast the cross ...
Leap of Faith - The brave swimmers, dive into the icy water ...
I have it ...
They all deserve a medal, icy water and just before they took a dip, there were snow flurries too ...

All content, including Photographs, graphics, text, © The Skiathian 2010-2015. All rights reserved

Monday, 5 January 2015

Man on a mission ...

5am at the Ski village ...

That's Gatwick airport, where you fight your way through the boot bags, cases, skis, snowboards and their owners to check in. Not many skiers heading my way but who knows, after the recent weather in Greece.

My how things have changed at Easyjet, I went to hand my case to a human, and,was directed to the bag drop area. Bag drop is, two humans managing a visual document check and directing you to the scales.

Scan your check in voucher, pop your bag on the scales. Is it under 20kg ? Yes proceed it prints your luggage strap and you attach it to the case. Stick a small one on your voucher, and another on the side of your case.

Press yes to go and your bag is accepted, and off it goes into the computer generated and managed luggage warehouse under the airport. Presumably doing battle with all the skiers kit.

I did notice the chip and pin reader, if your bags weigh over 20kg. Remember the tv programme where the great and the good, argued for our entertainment? Next year's version will be a hidden camera, live stream of someone arguing with a set of scales.

How many flights will be missed, whilst someone there, argues with the scales about how many shoes they need in Skiathos ...

Under 20kg you fly, over 20kg you pay or stay behind, as a no show. Must admit it's a brilliant way to run a business. Make money on the strength of someone else's bathroom scales ...

Security, extremely swift, efficient. Just like arrivals, however no one shouts at you from behind the equipment.

You emerge into the neon world, that is the shopping mall that used to be the departures lounge. You have to pass through the entire duty free lounge, to get anywhere else.

Since the airport was privatised, the architect took a shopping mall like Blue waters, and bolted it onto the airport. It's visually stunning, . I did not recognise most of it from before. I had to look around, because I was lost in the retail machine ...

Tired, sleepless and hungry, where to eat? Frankie and Benny or Cafe Rouge?

Cafe Rouge, which was a mistake. We do not have sausages, pastries, the list went on and on. I asked if they had any eggs, making light of what must be a very bad morning for the people working there.

It was worse, it was their last day. They closed that evening. They were being fired, some had found jobs, some had not. They looked tired, they were working their last night shift, and some had problems ahead. I did feel sorry for them ...

Years ago Cafe Rouge was where the bar was located, it was a wall of floor to ceiling cigarette smoke, even at 5am. It must have come in handy for the nicotine effect paint job when Cafe Rouge took over.

It has 'Location Location Location' and still has a great view of the fire engines, racing to meet an arriving aircraft. Which is just what happened as I awaited my Eggs Benedict. Who needs the plasma screen BBC world news, when you have live emergency action outside on the tarmac ...

Back in duty free, the service was painfully slow by the little old Asian ladies. The East European lady was serving customers at a rate of three to one and smiling. Some oik was extremely rude to her about the wait. I saw her shake her head in disbelief, and smile for the next customer.

Little old Asian lady, no greeting of acknowledgement, slapped my goods on the counter, and pointed to chip and pin. I thought about the lady serving in Cafe Rouge, if I was someone like Alan Sugar, someone else may have been getting fired ...

Back into the shopping centre, where the plasma video wall, said go to gate 90. This is where Greece was besieging the desk, regardless of the announcements, as the rest of the world does not speak Greek.

However Easyjet LGW speak English-language, OK with a West Indian accent, and smile to match, and expect you to obey the rules. So it takes time to get the 'non so speedy boarders' and 'easyjet pluscard' holders through the melee. The kids and pushchair eventually made it through and down the stairs.

By the time I got on board, the returning Greeks had boarded, and stowed their ten pieces of hand luggage. I sat next to a Greek guy, seemingly untouched by austerity.

Clearly he ate well, and overflowed into my part of the seat. Presumably it was his seat, as he was firmly located in mine. The curved section of fuselage more of use to him than me ...

We departed, a few minutes late into the rain and grey skies, turning right towards London, emerging into the sunrise above, heading east climbing very swiftly.

Easyjet service, seamless efficiency, they tried to flog me a copy of the Sunday Times, and Hello magazine, which years ago I used to get free ...

Very bumpy over the Alps, the captain advised us to fasten seat belts. The crew told us to stay seated, the toilets were out of use until further notice. The announcement was made in Greek, guess who ignored it and went walkabout?

I admire the patience, of any steward, stewardess on any form of transport dealing with the public, who always know best. Especially when told in English, 'You should speak Greek' ...

We landed 30 minutes early, my bag made it through the computer, and one of the last onto the conveyor. I later found out it had been opened, and checked somewhere on its journey. I was carrying goods for impoverished, and starving islanders (as usual) ...

Thessaloniki was sunny but cool after the recent snow. Wind from the north chilly, and breezy. Fought my way on to the bus across the city. A 55 minute ride for just €2, you must buy your ticket before the journey from the lady in the kiosk. Validate it or if caught expect a hefty fine.

From what I saw about half did, mainly young people. Many of the older ones travelled without paying, perhaps keeping an invalidated ticket in their pocket just in case.

The KTEL bus terminal very busy. Ok it's holiday time, no problem, made my way to window 18, three very sour people on duty. Second time today I thought about the lady in Cafe Rouge, as the money snatched from my hand. The change and ticket slapped on the counter. Welcome to Greece ...

Into the cafe, a slice of Pizza, as recommended by Simon and Donna, whilst I waited for the bus. The Volos bus departs from Bay 18, along with five others. Make sure you put your bag on the right one.

Departing on time, sitting in my allocated seat under darkening skies. Angry clouds starting to deposit rain. No announcements, in fact the coach in silence apart from the young lady across the aisle. Streaming cold, coughing and sneezing. Bet I have the cold soon ...

I sleep when I can, just like on the aircraft, it's the only way to travel like this. Non stop to Volos, only dropping people off on the way. Approaching Pelion you see the snow, the hills blanketed in it, we turn off the motorway and the national road is a slush run. The melting snow and all around the land is a winter landscape.

Volos has snow piled up by the road, where the snowploughs had left it, slushy pavements, but it's Christmas here, the decorations, pipped music, people sitting outside in the rain drinking coffee, having a great time.

Street decorations Volos style ...

I must admit, I do like Volos, but it's very cold and windy. I am a man on a mission, will I be here for the holiday or Skiathos for Theofania. ...

Later update:

Made it with a dash across town from Volos hospital. Still in one piece despite the wind rocking a very full Proteus ferry. Very bumpy in the open water between the mainland, and the shelter from the strong Northerly winds. Quite a few taking advantage of the 'comfort bags' handed out by the crew.

Most of Skiathos on the boat all relaying news from the island. Not all of it good.
Spray from the bows, washing the windows, and obscuring the wintry showers outside. Managed to glimpse the sun setting over the clouds and mainland.

The house is cold, it feels unloved. The woodburner is doing its job but consuming logs at quite a rate.

Tea and biscuits, and heat. Snow expected again tomorrow as more bad weather rolls in to chill us. Windy again rattling the roof.

Goodnight from the rock ...

Friday, 2 January 2015

Sad news ...

RIP Sean Dixon who passed away yesterday ...

Sincere condolences to Jacqui, Carly & Jade, from Skiathos friends near and far, at this sad time ...

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Kαλη χρονιά ...

Happy New Year ...

Its just another day, but its a fun way to change the numbers.


Many of you will be longing for your return to the island this summer. Your trip just a few months away, Some of you will share a desire to live there too.

This morning please spare a thought, for friends back on the rock ...

The bad weather of the last few days, is taking its toll on the islanders. Heavy snow, has been followed by strong winds, and freezing rain. The ferries have not been able to sail, due to the strong winds.

Photo - Darrel Woods
Power supplies are being interrupted, wood supplies are being swiftly used up, as they try to keep warm. Not the start to the year, that many will have planned ...

Later news:
Volitaki reports the flying cat from Volos was due to depart at 16:00hrs, it was delayed until 18:00hrs. It is not expected to sail before 20:00hrs due to the strong winds ...